Rec Center Controversy; From Free To Fee

It's one of the few rec centers in North Tulsa, Chamberlain, offering programs like free basketball. But come September first, the city plans to lease the gymnasium to a private company.

"The only word that I can imagine to say for this is madness," said Tulsa city councilor Jack Henderson, none to pleased with the dwindling number of rec center options for kids in North Tulsa.

"When I first started in office we had six or seven, now it's down to two, and you want to take one of those last two and give it to somebody else from another side of town, c'mon," he said."Unfortunately, due to budget restraints we've had to make some difficult decisions," said Dean Richardville of the city of Tulsa. He says it boils down to not having enough funds to operate all the rec centers."Hopefully it will enhance the current programs that we currently have here at Chamberlain," he said.

But what concerns opponents is that with a new organization at the helm, come brand new fees.

"If the community wanted to use it they would have to pay to use it, something that they have for free now," said Henderson."Doesn't make any sense," lamented community activist James Johnson, outraged over the plans."Let's kill the dreams of all the black children," he said.Did you anticipate this being such a hot button topic? "Uhm, per say, that's hard to say, not necessarily," said Richardville.

Councilor Henderson is hoping public pressure will take hold, in one form or another.

"Sue 'em if we have to. People like to throw that word out there, sue 'em, so I think that's something that North Tulsa citizens might want to entertain," he said.